How Houseparty, an app no one had heard of a week ago, has become a staple of coronavirus lockdown

Moya Lothian-McLean@moya_lm
Friday 20 March 2020 15:00
news
(Houseparty)

Now that anyone who can is socially distancing, many people are spending an unprecedented amount of time indoors.

With advice to avoid bars, pubs and other communal areas you’d usually socialise, instant messaging apps have their time to shine.

And alongside the usual suspects – WhatsApp, Skype, Facetime – a new user has entered the chat.

Welcome Houseparty, the unlikely star of coronavirus quarantine.

Created by the team behind Meerkat, a livestreaming app, Houseparty was released in February 2016.

From the get-go it had a pretty steady stream of users, with almost one million downloads by September of that year.

Houseparty was doing so well in 2019 that Epic Games, the company who created one of the world’s most popular videogames Fortnite, bought it.

But since self-isolation has confined a whole swathe of people to the house, the app’s found itself skyrocketing in popularity.

According to Google Trends, searches for “houseparty app” are the highest they’ve been in the US and the UK in the last week.

Searches for “houseparty app reviews” have increased by 300 per cent in the US whereas in the UK the question “what is houseparty app” is a rising trend.

It’s also gone from being ranked at number 304 in the Apple Store to number two for Social Networking apps at the time of writing.

Basically, lots of people are downloading it.

So: here’s what you need to know.

What is Houseparty?

In layman’s terms, it’s FaceTime plus games.

Houseparty is a video messaging app that allows you to add your friends and throw “parties” with them, where you’re all in the same video conversation. There you can play games like Quick Draw, Trivia and Heads Up.

You can also send “notes”, “Facemail” (a video message to someone not online) and jump into other “houseparties” you see your friends in. Although that seems kinda rude.

Where can I download it?

All the normal places. iOS and Android both host the app and desktop versions for Chrome browsers and Mac computers are available too.

How do I add my friends?

Many ways. You can search for their usernames, add via existing contacts, add people nearby if they have their discoverable feature switched on, or even by Facebook. It’s actually hard not to get added if you know someone on it.

Houseparty also notifies people the moment you so much as breathe near the app, telling them you’re ‘in the house’.

This can have some… unexpected results.

Those are the basics of Houseparty; it's not exactly complex.

Remember keep safe, no personal details etc etc.

But as we can’t have any real house parties for potentially half of the year… it might be worth pressing that “Install” button

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